Today In Fact, 25 June

Today God’s architect, Antoni Gaudi was born in a small Catalan village in Spain in 1852. He suffered from Rheumatism and a deep Catholic faith. At an early age Gaudi chose a vegetarian diet and often undertook severe fasts which at times threatened his health.

During his youth, he explored the ideals of socialism but as he aged, he became a deeply conservative Catalan Catholic. He once showed an interest in a woman, Josefa Mereu but she did not reciprocate his attentions. From then on he remained a bachelor, immersing himself in his great love; architecture.

Globally recognized for his personal vision and style in architecture, his greatest work, the unfinished Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, Gaudi started his professional career designing lampposts.

In his personal habits and lifestyle, Gaudi lived a life of simplicity and poverty. His clothing was often ragged and dishevelled to the extent that many mistook him for a beggar. His great benefactors were the wealthy and powerful Sagrada Family who gave him projects and cared for his needs.

On 7 June 1926, Gaudí was taking his daily walk to the Sant Felip Neri church for his habitual prayer and confession. While walking along the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes between Girona and Bailén streets, he was struck by a passing tram and lost consciousness. Assumed to be a beggar because of his lack of identity documents and shabby clothing, the unconscious Gaudí did not receive immediate aid.

Eventually a police officer transported him in a taxi to the Santa Creu Hospital, where he received rudimentary care. By the time that the chaplain of the Sagrada Família, Mosén Gil Parés, recognised him on the following day, Gaudí’s condition had deteriorated too severely to benefit from additional treatment. Gaudí died on 10 June 1926 at the age of 73 and was buried two days later. A large crowd gathered to bid farewell to him in the chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the crypt of the Sagrada Família.

We could blame Gaudi’s dress sense for his death. I think though that he lived in a time and in a city that, to its shame, showed little regard for beggars, the homeless and the poor. God’s architect, a man renowned for building God’s house, was mistaken by the citizens of Barcelona as a homeless man.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (serendipiday.blogspot.com)